|Indonesia’s most-wanted Islamist militant, Noordin Mohamed Top, has been killed during a raid in central Java, say police.|
September 18th, 2009
The man wanted for a series of deadly attacks across the archipelago was among four killed in a raid near Solo city, said the national police chief.
It is not the first time Indonesian officials have claimed Noordin is dead.
Indonesia’s president said the raid was a significant victory, but warned the militant threat was not yet over.
“We must continue to be vigilant and prepare for steps to tackle, optimally prevent and continue to hunt down terrorist leaders,” said Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The BBC’s Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta says police are sure this time Noordin is dead because of fingerprint tests.
“Thank God on this holy month of Ramadan - it’s Noordin M Top,” police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri told a nationally televised news conference to cheers, reports AFP news agency.
He added that alleged bomb-maker Bagus Budi Pranato, alias Urwah, was also among those killed.
A member of the national parliament’s security committee said he and other lawmakers had been allowed to inspect the bodies of the four militants.
“Today, God willing, the radical movement has been disabled. One of the biggest terrorist masterminds, Noordin M Top, has been shot,” said the MP, Sidarto, reports AFP.
“There were signs that pointed to it being Noordin M Top, such as a big mole on the left side of his nose,” he added.
Noordin, 41, is accused of leading a more hardline splinter faction of the regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.
Police are reported to have closed in on the rented house late on Wednesday after arresting two suspects nearby.
Witnesses said they heard gunfire through the night and then an explosion early on Thursday.
A pregnant woman was among those arrested during the operation, said police.
Explosives and grenades were found in the house, Maj Gen Sukarna said.
The operation reportedly left behind a charred house with no roof and collapsed walls.
Malaysian-born Noordin was also reported to have been killed during a raid in central Java last month, but it later emerged he had slipped through the net again.
Noordin is not thought to have been behind the 2002 bombings on Bali, but was allegedly involved in the blasts on the holiday island in 2005.
He was also blamed for a 2003 attack on the Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people, and the 2004 Australian embassy bombing in the Indonesian capital.
A lull ended in July with twin suicide bomb attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta that killed nine people and injured scores of others.
On raids in Cilacap, central Java, in July, police said they found bomb-making material at an Islamic boarding school, and explosives buried in the garden of a house of Noordin’s father-in-law.
Noordin was said to have been a key financier for Jemaah Islamiah, but was thought to have set up his own more hard-line splinter group.
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